By Michael Barber

First Community member Mary Ann Krauss is not one to back away from a challenge, especially one as close to her heart as church finances.

“From a child, I was taught that it was part of my responsibility to help maintain the facility,” Mary Ann said. “Even if I’m not there every Sunday, that’s still my responsibility to step forward. It’s hard for me to do anything else.”

Mary Ann was chair of the original Stewardship Council 10 years ago. Then, in 2014, church member and consultant Bruce Pontious approached her to again lead the Council. He also asked her to chair that year’s Operating Campaign. She agreed to do one, but not both, putting all of her efforts into that year’s successful pledge campaign.

“I gathered a wonderful committee,” she said. “They represented North and South Campuses, different ages and financial ability. We were successful in reaching our goal that year.”

Mary Ann stayed on the following year to lead the Council, citing a dedication to volunteer work and the need to be sustainable.

“You can’t come and go,” Mary Ann said. “You have to be around to see the project through over the years.”

Bruce also called on Mary Ann to help with fundraising for the Capital Projects, specifically a new Welcome Center that will provide improved accessibility to South Campus. Construction on that portion of the Projects is set to begin this spring.

“In all my years, Mary Ann is without a doubt one of the most devoted, dependable and effective stewardship volunteers I have ever had the privilege to work alongside,” Bruce said. “Her passion for fueling and sustaining the marvelous work of this church is remarkable. I consider her one of my dearest friends and most trusted confidants.”

In recognition of her efforts, First Community Church presented Mary Ann with a Service Award Sunday, February 5, at South Campus during worship.

She was joined by her daughter Katie Ryan and grandchildren Maggie (15) and Doug (13). Her son John, daughter-in-law wife Shelly and grandchildren Jack (17), Clayton, (15) and Mary (12) were also present.

“We had two pews,” Mary Ann said. “I went in and sat down in my favorite spot. I sat there for 5 minutes before my grandson came from the front and told me they had a seat for me. It was very special.”

Mary Ann plans to continue leading the way toward increasing awareness of the church’s ongoing need for revenue.

“Stewardship is something a lot of people don’t want to get close to,” she said. “It’s my experience most people are complimented when they are asked for money. We are looking for ways to encourage people to give to programs and facilities. It’s not easy.”

Editor’s note: Cheryl and Loren VanDuesen were also recipients of the Service Award. A story about their work in the Community Garden at North Campus will appear in the April edition of ‘firstnews.’